From the Cumberland (Maryland) Times-News:
March 18, 2010
Megan Miller (Cumberland Times-News)
— CUMBERLAND — A Savage Mountain wind power project that never got off the ground will officially die on Saturday, when the facility’s construction deadline passes.
Despite a two-year extension granted in 2007, construction work never began on the proposed US Wind Force facility. After three years of construction delays, Vice President David Friend said that ultimately, the company couldn’t secure an adequate power purchase agreement in a timely fashion.
“At that time the market was at one place and today it’s at a different place,” Friend said. “In today’s market, that project just didn’t perform well enough to make it work.”
US Wind Force filed a permit application with the Maryland Public Service Commission on Aug. 26, 2002, to build a 40-megawatt wind power facility on the border of Allegany and Garrett counties, near Lonaconing.
The Maryland Public Service Commission approved the permit on March 20, 2003, allowing the project to proceed and requiring construction to be completed within five years.
But the Savage Mountain wind farm was planned on ground that had been strip-mined for coal since the 1960s. Due to complications with mining companies, the backfilling, regrading and other land reclamation work under the Bureau of Mines was not completed until June 2006. Because of the delay, US Wind Force requested and was granted a two-year extension on the construction deadline.
That was as far as it got.
Friend said the company isn’t calling it quits yet on another stalled project, this one on Dans Mountain in Allegany County. The Dans Mountain project received PSC approval in February 2009, but was stopped by zoning ordinance changes made by the County Commission.
“It’s not abandoned by any stretch,” Friend said. “At the end of the day, we still have a huge investment there, and we’re not ready to give up on that project just yet.”
US Wind Force isn’t the only company struggling to implement commercial wind projects in Maryland. To date, no developer has managed to accomplish that feat.
Andrew Gohn, clean energy program manager for the Maryland Energy Administration, said in the case of Allegany County, wind power development was blocked by the policy decision by local government officials.
“Allegany County drafted and ultimately passed an ordinance that is so restrictive that I think it’s fair to say it effectively bans wind power in Allegany County,” Gohn said. “It was pretty clear that it was drafted with an intent to ban the technology from the county, and it has had that effect.”
But in Garrett County, that hasn’t been the case. Gohn said the lack of developers’ success there could be partly due to national policy on renewable energy development.
The federal tax credit that incentivizes developers to build renewable energy projects used to be available on an intermittent basis — only so many months out of each year. Gohn said that made it more difficult for developers to finance their projects.
Two projects now pending in Garrett County, both reincarnations of earlier plans, could become the first Western Maryland wind farms to go into construction later this spring.
Both are located on Backbone Mountain. One, previously owned by Criterion Power Partners, was purchased in November by Constellation Energy. The deal was set to close in the first quarter of 2010, and a Constellation spokesman said everything is on track for construction to begin shortly thereafter.
The second, a Synergics Wind Energy project, received its approval from the PSC in mid-November.
Contact Megan Miller at firstname.lastname@example.org.